UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The government’s move to close over 50 city arcades in Kampala has prompted concerns about the Kampala Capital City Authority’s lack of enforcement of construction standards.
During a press conference last week, the State Minister for Kampala, Mr Kyofatogabye Kabuye, said at least 50 city arcades failed to meet standards for reopening. According to the findings compiled by Kampala City’s Covid-19 inspection teams, the closed city arcades did not meet SOPs and also had flouted building guidelines.
The Covid-19 inspection teams found arcades that were deficient in several requirements. Deficiencies included building plans, proper power connection, toilets, running water, CCTV cameras, ventilation, basements, and parking illegally converted into shops.
However, the discoveries about building defects put KCCA on the spot, since its primary role is to ensure coordinated planning in the capital city.
Kampala Capital City Authority has a full-fledged directorate of physical planning. KCCA’s other responsibilities include planning, designing and managing city physical infrastructure, including the zoning, land sub-division and demarcating areas for development.
The directorate also guides KCCA on urban planning, infrastructure improvements, and land development in the city, and oversees development across the five divisions of Kampala.
The identified faults can only imply that the arcade owners either disregarded building guidelines, or altered plans approved by the KCCA.
Mr Daniel Nuwabiine, KCCA’s head of public and corporate affairs, confirmed the breach of construction guidelines and said that developers exploit KCCA’s enforcement gaps to change construction plans.
“We found out that developers had illegally made modifications to the original plans which we gave them. Therefore, all the defects must be worked on before they are allowed to reopen,” Daniel said.
Daniel, however, could not explain why KCCA closed the city arcades, yet most of them had existed for over five years.
Some landlords of closed arcades, who preferred anonymity, dismissed the claims that they flouted construction guidelines given by KCCA.
“Have they just realised the defects now? Who approved the building plans? KCCA should stop frustrating landlords and traders because the approval of building plans is a mandate of KCCA. Therefore, it makes little sense for them to raise the issues now, yet they are the same people who approved our plans,” the anonymous landlord said.
Although he admitted some landlords alter construction plans, he accused KCCA of not carrying out inspections. Yet, they have teams whose role is to monitor all construction developments in the city.
Minister Kabuye served a non-compliant notice to the arcade owners who had deficiencies. The notice detailed the corrective measures which were supposed to be undertaken before re-inspection.
“The inspection teams will be ready to go back to the buildings that seek re-inspection for clearance to open upon notification of the Town Clerk by the property proprietor or administrator,” Mr Kabuye wrote.
Mr Godfrey Katongole, the Kampala Arcade Traders Association (Kata) chairperson, has asked the government to allow landlords to fix the defects.
“We will carry out our inspection starting tomorrow [Tuesday 17th August] for at least one week and write a report to the President about this crisis. Traders are stuck at home and have no money to eat, yet their shops are closed,” Mr Katongole said.
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